Webstock 2008: Design for the Future

by Luke Wroblewski February 14, 2008

Nat Torkington’s Design for the Future presentation at Webstock 2008 outlined several trends shaping our future and the design implications stemming from them.

Trend 1: Growth

  • Moore’s law applies to more than just processing power. Power is doubling every 18 months in memory, displays, CPU, RAM, etc. Because much of this power is new to us, we don’t yet know how to use it.
  • Growth also applies to content assets available to us. Our needles remain are same size, but our haystacks are growing exponentially. As a result, finding stuff becomes very difficult.
  • We need to do more with more. Gather as much data and information as we can (face recognition, metadata, etc.)
  • We need to stay aware of machine learning and user interface enhancements to help people manage growth.
  • Broadband is not keeping up with Moore’s Law. Need to push for improvements in access.

Trend 2: Media

  • Report with software, not print media. Journalism online turns news into an application people can use. Some examples of news as applications: Chicago crime and everyblock.
  • Trusted sources are disappearing (TV, newspaper) –where do you go for trusted information (your social graph?)
  • Local newspapers lacking real journalism. This creates an opportunity to provide “what is going on?” for people.

Trend 3: Immediacy

  • People live in a real time world and expect real time information.
  • We need to exploit the real time personal nature of the Web.
  • Real-time testing: A/B testing on Web sites.

Trend 4: Mobile

  • Design for mobile devices. People need access to content and services everywhere.
  • Open platforms for mobile emerging but mobile systems are still largely closed
  • Invest in mobile user interface design. It’s hard to get right.

Trend 5: People

  • All these trends are happening to people.
  • Fairness: studies show people expect certain level of fairness.
  • Overcoming new challenges is fun for people. Doing the same thing over again is not.
  • People overestimate their ability to communicate. We’re really not that good at it especially online.

Trend 6: Reality

  • Be reality-based: gather information, admit if you were wrong, then act on new information you gain.
  • Objective reality can be measured